If you had the chance to see your favourite Disney Villains come to lascivious life onstage, would you? The answer is clearly yes, if the massive crowd at the Rio on a Wednesday was any indication. The theatre was Friday-levels of packed, and from all the cheering, they were not disappointed.
The show began with Ariel (Miss Kiss) and Prince Eric (Frodo T. Baggins) contemplating being good guys. By which I mean Ariel burst into song. Specifically a twisted version of “Part of Your World” about wanting to be evil. And who better to learn evil from than the villains themselves?
Burlesque has a few common elements, one of which is (of course) dance. The Evil Queen from Snow White (Rainbowglitz) set the bar high. With Patrice Bowler as the Mirror the two worked together seamlessly, mirroring each other’s moves. The final shot of Rainbowglitz dancing upside-down and finishing with a glitter cannon was priceless.
Scar (Scarlet Delerium) danced to the only acceptable song, “Be Prepared”. And oh, did she dance. The number oozed predatory grace, and there was a stunning moment near the end where she held herself up by her hands and slid head-first down a chair.
Tying for technical terror was the Boogieman from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Goldie Locks boogied it up to the villain’s theme, and stayed perfectly in character. Her dancing was seamless, especially for a sackcloth-stitched monster.
To end the first act we had arguably Disney’s best representation of pure evil: Chernabog from Fantasia (Trixie Hobbitses). This was a darker and more classically seductive side than Trixie Hobbitses — known best as Wonder Woman and Princess Leia — often shows, which was exactly what one could hope from a big bad in a room full of villains.
What makes burlesque unique is the comedy it often weaves into performances. The first dose came quickly as, after the stage puppy Flounder (Calvin Comet) came through, Whatshername slunk on stage as Shere Khan. She exuded confidence to “Eye of the Tiger” — until Mowgli sent her into limb-flailing panic. After that she was hilariously morose, making the King of the Jungle more like the Cowardly Lion.
We weren’t sure what to expect when Horace and Jasper appeared on stage with banjos. At least until Cruella DeVille (Roe Butts), complete with fur coat and perfect hair, began leading the audience in a song with the chorus “dead puppies for my coat.” It was hard to sing without laughing.
Still, which one Disney Villain has ever successfully killed anyone? That’s right, the Hunter from Bambi. Lottie Libido swaggered out to prove exactly how evil this menace really was. With flannel and a highly lickable handgun, she eventually out-sexied Bambi’s mother to death.
Donna Jazz was an unexpected contender. Though her costume was beautiful and her song choice (“I Want to Be Evil” by Eartha Kitt) was perfect, it wasn’t until Kronk appeared that I pinned Yzma for who she was. The rest of the act was a lovely fan dance (with Kronk imitating her with tiny fans of his own). The final reveal using the “pull the lever” joke almost made me split a seam.
Speaking of seams, where would burlesque be without stunning costumes? Iago (Miss Dee Twenty) pulled off one of the best of the night: a hand-crafting corset, bra and floor-length skirt made entirely out of feathers — and her hair rivalled the crest of the grandest cockatiel.
Ursula (Precious Metal) was stunning in a waving skirt of what seaweed must look like if actually underwater (and metallic purple). She had all the fabulous sass of the sea witch and her costume only drove that home.
The penultimate terror of the night was, of course, Maleficent (Teresa Marie). Her twisted horns and massive black wings were visually stunning. The song choice, however, was unexpected — jazzy and upbeat. Perhaps this was a nod to the new movie, but the incongruity was somewhat distracting. Nothing could dampen the mesmerizing effect of those wings, though.
The finale was completely unexpected, as most good finales are. Sherry Hymen was announced as “the new Prince of evil,” but that did not prepare for Loki the Trickster God to strut onstage to Down With Webster’s “Whoa is Me”. She showed off the perfect blend of self-aggrandizement and self-pity that Marvel Loki embodies. And as if that weren’t enough, her pasties were literally on fire.
Wicked Ways showcased some of the best elements of burlesque, all while destroying our childhood — or, I should say, making it better. For more upcoming Geekenders goodness, visit their website and Facebook!